BREAKING: Governor Cuomo Increases Reduction in Workforce at Physical Workspace to 75% and Issues “Essential Services” Exemptions to Reduction Requirement

By Katherine L. Wood, Esq.

In response to the spread of COVID-19 in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that all non-essential businesses must reduce their in-person workforce by 75%.  This latest reduction, which takes effect on Friday, March 20, 2020 at 8:00 p.m., is an increase from the 50% reduction of in-person workforce announced by Governor earlier in the week.

On March 18, 2020, the Governor issued an executive order, which identified the types of businesses that constitute “essential services” exempt from the reduction rule.  The executive order can be located here.

The following businesses are exempted “essential services,” per the executive order:

  • Essential health care operations including research and laboratory services;
  • Essential infrastructure including utilities, telecommunication, airports and transportation infrastructure;
  • Essential manufacturing, including food processing and pharmaceuticals;
  • Essential retail including grocery stores and pharmacies;
  • Essential services including trash collection, mail, and shipping services; news media;  
  • Banks and related financial institutions;
  • Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations; construction;
  • Vendors of essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses;  
  • Vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care and services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.

The executive order also states that businesses may apply to be deemed essential by requesting an opinion from the Empire State Development Corporation.  If you have questions as to whether your business constitutes an “essential service” exempted from the 75% reduction of in-person workforce, please contact experienced employment counsel.

Hurwitz & Fine continues to monitor and analyze these updates and advise employers on matters related to the coronavirus outbreak.  Please contact any member of the firm’s Employment Practices team for guidance on this evolving issue at 716-849-8900 or visit our website at

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